Saturday, August 01, 2009

Our daily bread

Earlier in the week Philip and I had been discussing hymns for tomorrow. The post Communion prayer is a rendering of 'Strengthen for service Lord the hands that holy things have taken', so we agreed we'd sing it together instead of me saying it. I also proposed we use 'Let all mortal flesh keep silent' as an offertory (in its correct place, as evidenced by the Syrian Liturgy of St James). Both are attributed to Ephrem the Deacon, poet of Edessa in the decades after the Nicene Creed was written. His work became a special to me, and had me making a personal pilgrimage to Syria during the nineties. You'll find some photos I took on that journey here. So I decided I'd preach about Ephrem, and sermon preparation came quick and easy.

As a result I had free time on my hands this afternoon, so I decided I'd bake bread and make a pizza. It could be as long as five years since I last did this. Yet, it's such a pleasure to do. There was a time when, as a family we baked regularly, but we've gotten out of the habit, and our lives are poorer for that, despite the excellent fare available to us from the Farmers Market and several bakeries around town.

I realised as I set about the task that I needed quite a bit of reminding and refreshing of memory from Clare to steer away from disaster. Clearly, its a habit I need to get back into, in order to improve and diversify this matchless pleasure.

It occurs to me that it's Lammas Day today - Lammas = 'loaf mass', when by ancient custom a loaf baked from the first-fruit of the summer wheat harvest would be offered in thanksgiving at a special Eucharist, continuing such custom as was common place in biblical Judaism. But it wasn't something I could take into church on the morrow, what with the flour packets having 'best before' dates, suggesting that it was quite a while since the grains were committed to the mill in whatever country of origin - most likely last year's grain harvest. And that would be a bit of a sham really.

Clare has a grain mill, but grain is much more costly to buy and grind yourself than to buy as flour - supply and demand and the cost of packaging, transport and storage see to all that. We've never had a go at growing our own. It's small reminder of how dependent we are on the land and labours of others, whom we shall never get to know.

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